7-year-old boy in critical condition after suspected abuse in Modesto

Local News

The Latest – Sept. 21 (4 p.m.)

David Turner was pronounced dead, his family said Monday.

His father, who did not wish to be identified, provided a statement:

“I feel like my heart has ripped outa my chest thrown on the ground and stomped on.”


MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) — While a Modesto woman and her boyfriend remain behind bars, suspected of abusing the woman’s 7-year-old son, the boy’s family is fighting for justice. 

Although they say the child’s odds are against him as he remains in critical condition, they continue to pray he’ll make it. 

“The whole neighborhood knew little David. He used to pal around with his grandpa up and down the streets, helping neighbors all the time,” said the boy’s relative Renee Wheeler. 

David Turner is described by family as a charming, loving and sweet 7-year-old. 

Wheeler says the helpful, smiling little boy now faces immense odds. 

“On life support, he’s brain dead,” Wheeler told FOX40. “There’s absolutely no brain function and his heart keeps giving out.” 

Modesto police investigators say his mother, Jovonna Cruz, and her boyfriend, Eyvar Rivera, abused him. 

The couple was arrested at a Modesto apartment complex Sunday and since then, Turner has been in critical condition. 

“The prognosis is they don’t think he’s going to make it through the day,” Wheeler said. 

The incident has drawn sympathy neighbors, including 6-year-old Ariela Espino. 

“I kinda feel sad but I wish I should have helped him” Espino said. 

The last time any of the boy’s loved ones had seen him was nine months ago. 

Wheeler says that’s because Cruz hid the boy along with his younger sister from the rest of the family. 

“She shouldn’t have been so selfish. She should have gave that baby up when asked to,” Wheeler said. 

The police department had been contacted at least by concerned family members, according to Wheeler. 

And officers were aware of a prior incident in March, forwarding the case to Child Protective Services. Stanislaus County CPS told FOX40 on Thursday that they do not comment on specific cases.

“Something else needs to be done to start being able to recognize what’s under the surface,” Wheeler said. 

Some of the mementos strangers have left will join Turner by his bedside as Wheeler prepares to join him in vigilant prayer. 

“Not over ‘till it’s over, so I still believe in miracles,” Wheeler said. “And I’m hoping and praying for a huge one right now.”

The family has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for Turner’s care. If you would like to help, click or tap here. 

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